Political firebrand and thrice-imprisoned radio broadcaster Mam Sonando on Friday resigned as president of the party he founded, the Beehive Social Democratic Party, citing a poor showing at June’s commune elections.
The move comes a year from the national election, which Sonando had vowed to contest due to his disenchantment with the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
At the June 4 local ballot, Beehive picked up just one commune councillor position in Kampong Cham’s Taing Krasaing commune, and received less than 31,000 votes out of more than 6.9 million cast.
Sonando, 75, yesterday maintained his decision was not related to the recent passage of controversial new amendments to the Law on Political Parties amendments, which stipulate that a convicted person cannot lead a political party.
“The Law on Political Parties issued recently is a minor thing, and it is not the main problem – my main problem is that nowadays I do everything for the people, but the people do not support and vote for me,” he said.
Sonando has been jailed three times, most recently in 2012 for a widely debunked “secessionist” plot that saw him sentenced to 20 years in prison. The charge was later converted to a lesser offence and he was freed after eight months.
The popular radio personality made a failed bid for election in 1998 and disbanded his party, only to resurrect it in 2015.
Beehive party Vice President Huon Pannary said a meeting would be held next week to decide the party’s future. She said supporters had indicated they wanted the party to carry on, even without its leader.
Dissident monk But Buntenh, who is embroiled in a defamation suit with Sonando and describes his politics as an “egotist doctrine”, welcomed his resignation.
“I think the party already has become a ghost,” he said.